Poor first half shooting and a lack of defense enabled Houston to take a sizable halftime lead and defeat the Sixers 88-80 in the opening game of the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League.
The 76ers got off to a slow start offensively. Former Syracuse guard and first round selection Michael Carter-Williams looked nervous in the first half. MCW’s nerves produced a host of turnovers which led to a Houston 13-3 lead. After settling down, he finished with fifteen points in the first half.
MCW had little help in the first half. The team’s second leading scorer at halftime was Center Michael Eric with 6…who saw that coming. Former Temple guard Khalif Wyatt was 1-6 while Rodney Williams, Trevor Mbakwe and James Southerland shot a combined 2-9.
Philadelphia’s first half defense was like a safe with no lock. Houston’s guards penetrated the lane at will and the Sixers had no answer for former Kentucky power forward Terrence Jones. Jones transformed into a one man wrecking crew scoring 24 points and adding 12 rebounds.
In the second half the 7-6 showed some grit and played the way they will need to if this squad wants to be successful in Orlando. With the exception of a few turnovers, Carter-Williams and Eric turned up the defensive pressure. Carter-Williams started the second half with three straight baskets and finished the game with an impressive 26 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. The Sixers made a valiant run to close the gap to within three at 58-55 but Jones answered and ended the threat.
Eric made a strong start in trying to make the Sixers roster with 8 points and 6 rebounds. Rodney Williams scored 12 points, all in transition. He went 0-2 from three point range. Southerland appeared one dimensional; settling for three point shots and didn’t seem comfortable unless he was behind the arc. The 54th pick Arsalan Kazemi exhibited a high basketball IQ and played well on both ends in just under 9 minutes of play. DJ Cooper was the Sixers lone 3 point threat going 2-4 from deep. Cooper will have to be stronger with the ball as he looks to get more comfortable in the games during OPSL.
Wyatt ended the game on a strong note scoring multiple times and added a couple of assists in the final minutes to end up with 9 points and 3 assists.
Following the game, Wyatt said, “I became more comfortable in the second half but I have to do a better job making decisions with the ball to take some pressure off of MCW”.
He added that Philly must do a better job shooting to prevent defenses from sagging off of them. He said, “They definitely clogged up the paint. We need to do a better job of executing shots in the half court and me and James Southerland should be able to do that”.
The Sixers are scheduled to play Indiana tomorrow at 1pm.
Alex Gorge is a scribe for Philadunkia and he will be Tweeting live from the OPSL all week. You can follow him @apg3000.
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